The University of Maryland squares off with the University of Virginia is a football border state match-up Saturday at 3:30. It is the closest thing to an ACC football rivalry for the Terps. The game takes on added significance since Maaryland has lost their last 3 games to UVA and the outcome will have a major impact on what type of bowl game Maryland ends up in. The Terps will look to take advantage of their ball control offense in order to slow down the passing attack of the Cavaliers and send the handsomely dressed Whaoo faithful, first years to fourth years, home with a little less sway in the “Good Old Song.”
The main concern for the Terps defensively is the passing attack of the Cavaliers. Led by QB Marc Verica, a fifth year, the Hoos are 2nd in the ACC in passing yards per game. Verica enters the Terps game with a hot hand. He lit up the Duke Blue Devils for 417 yards in a 55-48 loss. Maryland showed against Miami that they can be susceptible to big plays in the passing game, but UVA does not have the talent or speed on the outside that the ‘Canes showed last week. They do have an experienced QB and the Terps will need to keep an eye out for Kris Burd (3rd year) and Dontrell Inman (4th year). Terp corners Trent Hughes and Cam Chism will need to improve their play to slow down the UVA passing attack. Maryland will also need to keep the pressure on UVA. Defensive coordinator Don Brown has done a good job of mixing blitz pressure and encouraging his secondary to be aggressive. It has led to more sacks and turnovers than Terrapin fans have seen in recent years. If the Terps can come out on top in turnover margin they should be able to control this game, as UVA struggles defensively.
Speaking of UVA’s defense, the Terps get to face off against a unit that ranks 11th against the run and 10th in total defense in the ACC. Offensively, Maryland has struggled to consistently run the ball behind a patch-work offensive line. To me this is a week where they need to be more forceful in the run game. The Terps have good talent at running back and controlling the ground game will mean fewer opportunities for Verica to throw the ball up and down the field. QB Danny O’Brien needs to bounce back after a sub-par performance in Miami. He seemed off with his timing and accuracy. The Terps coaching staff does a good job of having O’Brien make throws that are low in difficulty, giving the Terps talented receivers the opportunity to make plays with the ball in their hands. Look for a steady diet of receiver screens and slant routes designed to get the Terps play-makers in space.
The Terps will look to make some big plays against UVA, just as we have seen in their games against Wake Forest, Duke and Florida International. Both offenses should have the advantage in this game in terms of play making ability. I would not be surprised to see a semi- shoot out with the Terps coming away with a 35-24 win in Charlottesville against freshman coach Mike London.